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Rays of hope in Newtown (United States)
an article by Marian Salzman, Op-ed for Stamford Advocate

The images of Sandy Hook Elementary School students returning for classes on Jan. 3, their first day of the "new normal," were both heartrending and heartwarming. Scared-but-brave children got off buses and anxious-but-appearing-calm parents accompanied them to classes.

From Facebook for Newtown Peace Park

click on photo to enlarge

Therapy dogs greeted the kids to ease the transition to their new campus, and the school itself represented the generous work of people who transformed a former middle school into an elementary school -- from technical work like raising bathroom floors and lowering paper towel dispensers to re-creating familiar classrooms with the same desks and student art projects on the walls.

It was a time to reflect on the community's response to the tragedy of a gunman killing 20 innocent children and six adults inside Sandy Hook. It's the kind of response that makes me proud to be an American.

In addition to practical, charitable endeavors -- such as the University of Connecticut's Sandy Hook Memorial Scholarship Fund; United Way of Western Connecticut and Newtown Savings Bank's Sandy Hook School Support Fund; the Emilie Parker Fund (which my company, Havas PR, is supporting, and which is raising money to help pay for parents to take time off work, for funeral expenses and to ease the burden in other ways); and many more -- there has been a general outpouring of grace and support.

Just three weeks after the massacre, the memorials at Sandy Hook have been replaced by signs that say things like: "We Are Sandy Hook. We Choose Love." At Newtown's Town Hall, there's a banner reading: "Together We Birth a Culture of Peace."

Another ray of hope to shine through was former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' private meeting with Sandy Hook families in Newtown, as well as her public calls to political action on gun control. Hers is a voice that's likely to be taken seriously, as she was critically injured two years ago when a gunman opened fire as she was speaking at a Tucson, Ariz., shopping center, killing six people and injuring another 13. . .

A blog post on People's website reports that on her way to comfort the mourning families in Connecticut, Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, stopped to meet with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the country's firmest supporters of stricter gun-control laws, as well as one of its most influential and powerful politicians. I'm hoping their collaboration -- and the work of many other advocates who are fighting to make sure a massacre like Sandy Hook never happens again -- leads to real change, that Sandy Hook becomes the last of these never-again events, and not just another entry in that all-too-long catalog of American atrocities.


Question(s) related to this article:

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

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Under pressure from the gun lobby, especially the National Rifle Association, on April 18, the Senate of the United States failed to pass a law designed to control the sale of guns such as those used in the Newtown massacre. †Here are excerpts from the account on Democracy Now.

Senate Kills Gun Reform with Defeat of Every Key Measure
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The Senate has sparked widespread outrage after defeating every major gun reform measure on the table. One by one, proposals unveiled since Decemberís Newtown shooting massacre failed to reach the 60-vote threshold in a Wednesday vote: a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, a bipartisan compromise on expanding background checks in gun purchases, and new penalties for illegal gun trafficking.

Obama Decries "Shameful Day" After Senate Defeat of Gun Control
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At the White House, President Obama stood with a group of gun violence victims and their families to denounce the senators ó including some Democrats ó who defeated the proposals.

President Obama: "The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill. A minority in the United States Senate decided it wasnít worth it. They blocked commonsense gun reforms, even while these families looked on from the Senate gallery."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to pull the overall gun-control bill from the Senate floor later today.

Calling the vote a "shameful day" on Capitol Hill, President Obama vowed to redouble his efforts for gun reform.
President Obama: "This was a pretty shameful day for Washington. But this effort is not over. I want to make it clear to the American people we can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence, so long as the American people donít give up on it. . ...more.

This report was posted on February 3, 2013.